One Last Historic Hurrah for Dan Henderson

Fightland Blog

By Peter Carroll

Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

Dan Henderson revealed that he will be the opponent for Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping’s first title defense at UFC 204, which is rumored to be happening in October in Manchester.

In his appearance on Talking Brawls Podcast on SevereMMA.com, Henderson claimed that bout has not been 100 percent signed off on, but he insisted that he believed it would take place in the Brit’s hometown.

“I’m pretty sure it will be a pay-per-view and I’d expect that (the announcement) happens relatively soon, possibly in the next couple of days,” he told Niall McGrath. “We should be able to get it figured out. I’m waiting to hear the exact date, and where but I’m almost positive it will happen, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t at this point.”

He added: “I’ve heard a number of things but I believe it could be in a stadium over there in Manchester.”

The legendary middleweight also confirmed that it would be the last fight of his career regardless of the outcome of the contest.

“That is my plan, win or lose I’m ready mentally to retire,” he claimed.

“My body could still probably go another two, three years more. I’ve put it through enough. I’m ready to take it a little bit easier, but still, be involved in MMA doing something a little bit different than fighting.”

Having scored a spectacular knockout over ‘The Count’ back at UFC 100, Bisping has been quite vocal in courting the 45-year-old for a rematch since he captured the belt.

It didn’t seem likely that ‘Hendo’ would get the shot having gone 2-3 in his last five bouts. His last win came against Hector Lombard who was contesting his first bout at 185 lbs over two years, which didn’t help his argument. Yet, the fact that he has decided to hang up his gloves after his title bout with Bisping has been well received by the MMA Universe.

Countdown to Retirement

It feels like we have been counting down to Henderson’s retirement for the last five years. Ever since he returned to the UFC at the ripe age of 40-years-old, there have been constant questions about how long he can remain in the sport.

He won his return bout against Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua in November 2011. The epic back and forth war went on to claim ‘Fight of the Year’ honors, but it wasn’t long before Henderson found his career trajectory being dramatically stifled.

Three losses on the bounce to Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans and the spectacular head kick knockout he suffered against ‘TRT Vitor’ had a lot of people thinking his time was up. However, just when we all thought his card was marked, ‘Hendo’ bounced back with another win over Rua where he also took home a ‘Performance of the Night’ and a ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus.

A third round submission loss to Daniel Cormier put him back in the loss column and also forced his return back to middleweight, a division in which he had his biggest successes throughout his career.

A quick first round knockout at the hands of Gegard Mousasi welcomed him back to his old stomping ground in Sweden and triggered more talk of Henderson’s need to hang up his gloves. Again, just when his back was up against the wall, he recorded a first round knockout of Tim Boetsch just justify his position on the roster.

Following that, another head kick knockout at the hands of Belfort put Henderson’s career on wobbly legs. Yet, true to form, his spectacular back elbow to grounded strikes TKO of Hector Lombard reminded the world of why Henderson is beloved universally.

One Last Historic Hoorah

Although his form of late doesn’t exactly deserve it, a middleweight UFC title shot is the perfect way for Henderson to walk off into the sunset. Having already claimed Pride and Strikeforce titles during his storied career, he would become the first person in history to have claimed Pride, Strikeforce and UFC titles if he managed to topple the outspoken Brit.

While fans and media cringed at him going in against destroyers like Lombard and Belfort in the past, having previously beaten Bisping in dramatic fashion, the fight makes a little bit of sense, at least. To add to that, the stopping power that Henderson had to deal with against Lombard won’t be present against Bisping, despite his first-round knockout of Luke Rockhold back at UFC 199.

The big fear is, as game as Henderson is, should he beat Bisping he could find it very difficult to walk away from the sport with a gold belt wrapped around his waist. Although he claimed that he was already thinking about retiring before the Bisping bout was offered to him, the idea of the defending the title could see him stay on for further challenges. 


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